Most-Wagered NCAA Tournament Cinderellas

Picking the favorite that eventually wins the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is obviously a nice feather in your cap and money in your wallet. But the reason why the country turns mad during March is because of buzzer-beaters, upsets, and Cinderellas.

No. 1 seeds are supposed to win. It’s fine when they do, but it isn’t special. But when No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago made the Final Four in 2018, they became a national obsession. And if you were smart enough to bet on Loyola, you bragged to everyone.

So which teams will bring the most bragging rights in 2024? Who is the most popular Cinderella as we head into the round of 64 on Thursday?

Virginia Cavaliers (+125)

Hopefully you did not join the legions of others who made Virginia the underdog with the shortest odds. They were a national champion five years ago, but this year they have the distinction of being the worst First Four team of the bunch. Their performance on Tuesday against Colorado State was embarrassing, and before we really got started, midnight struck. Virginia was a 67-42 loser.

North Carolina State Wolfpack (+200)

With Duke and North Carolina taking all the headlines this season, somehow North Carolina State managed to rise up and win the ACC Tournament. That gave the Wolfpack the automatic bid, an 11th seed, and a first-round matchup with the No. 6 seed, Texas Tech.

The last time N.C. State won the ACC Tournament was 37 years ago. They lost in the first round that year as the 11th seed, and to the sixth seed. Bettors are predicting that history will not repeat itself this March.

McNeese State Cowboys (+225)

From a record standpoint, it’s hard to call McNeese State an underdog. They lost only three games all season, winning 30. This is a very good team.

The issue is the Southland Conference, which is not good, and the Cowboys’ history in the NCAA Tournament, which is two first-round losses. And now they begin their third trip to the Big Dance with a game against Gonzaga, which has won in the tournament’s first round 14 times in a row.

The Bulldogs used to be the Cinderella we all rooted for. Now they are in the position of playing spoiler.

Long Beach State (+1300)

Dan Monson knows a thing or two about winning in the NCAA Tournament, even as he is a lame duck at Long Beach State. The former Gonzaga head coach, who went as far as the Elite Eight, was told by the Long Beach administration that he would not return to the bench next season.

His team responded by winning the Big West tournament and putting Monson into the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in his career.

What happens if he and his team beat No. 2 seed Arizona? Does Monson get to keep his job? Arizona was the No. 2 seed last year, and they lost to Princeton. Perhaps we’ll get a repeat, and Long Beach will have to make a tough decision.

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